Thursday, 19 November 2015

Airport compensation claims when bomb gets on plane

[What follows is excerpted from an article published yesterday on the Ahram Online website:]

Russian families may take legal action against Sharm El-Sheikh Airport if it is proven that poor security procedures led to the planting of a bomb which could have brought down a Russian airliner in October, James Healy-Pratt, specialist in airline disasters and aviation accidents, told Ahram Online.

Such legal action may take place “if there is evidence that the security screening services were negligent in permitting an explosive device onto the Metrojet aircraft,” the New York based attorney and aviation law arbitrator Healy-Pratt said.

Egypt’s prime minister said Tuesday that compensation by Egypt for the families is “out of the question,” given that the Egyptian investigative committee has not yet issued its final report.

Russia claimed on Tuesday that a bomb brought down the Russian airliner that crashed in central Sinai, killing all 224 people on board on 31 October, 214 Russian passengers, three Ukranian passengers, and seven crew members. (...)

Back in 1988, when Pan Am Flight 103 went down over Scotland by a bomb manufactured by Libyans spies, killing 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground, the then Libyan president [sic] Muammar Ghaddafi paid $10 million to every family of the victims. In 1990, The British Civil Aviation Authority had concluded that an explosive device brought the plane down. The compensation was paid in installments between 2004 and 2008.

[RB: A cynic might suspect that the likelihood of compensation claims against Heathrow Airport was one of the reasons why the Lockerbie investigation so speedily and blithely dismissed Heathrow as the airport of insertion of the bomb and instead concentrated all efforts on Luqa and Frankfurt. Thanks to Dr Morag Kerr’s Adequately Explained by Stupidity? - Lockerbie, Luggage and Lies, we now know that the bomb suitcase was already in AVE 4041, the relevant Pan Am 103 luggage container, at Heathrow before the feeder flight arrived from Frankfurt, allegedly containing a bag from Malta.]


  1. When I first started looking at the Lockerbie intrigue, the last thing I imagined I was going to find would have been a conspiracy to protect Heathrow airport. When I began to suspect it I thought it couldn't be so. Surely a British investigation would put solving the crime at the top of the agenda. How could anyone cynically derail the inquiry to prevent it discovering the modus operandi, and so make it highly likely the culprits would never be apprehended?

    Then it became more and more obvious that was what had happened. In the middle of it all I was approached by an anonymous informant who said that the day after the disaster John Orr, the SIO, had told a meeting of the senior police personnel who would be leading the investigation that "it is politically unacceptable for this to have been a bomb." He added that Orr had tried to prevent the leaders of the search teams from being shown what blast-damaged aluminium looked like, and the forensics people had gone behind his back to show the guys what to look for. Now this may be entirely untrue, we have to remember the trouble caused by "the Golfer", but then again it may not be untrue.

    Of course the evidence that there had been an explosion was too obvious to hide, so that idea, if it ever existed, went by the board. But I think it's quite possible that a follow-up edict, "it is politically unacceptable for this bomb to have been introduced at Heathrow," proved to be sustainable. Just.

    BAA had been privatised only two years earlier, and was one of the flagships of Maggie Thatcher's privatisation drive. It's airside security was atrocious. Even then, I couldn't quite get my head round the idea that someone very high up was determined to protect the airport at all costs. But then when I saw what London did to Sharm the other week - stopping British citizens fron flying home, then flying them back without hold baggage, basically trashing Sharm as an airport no sane adult should even think about flying from, then I believed it.

    I don't suppose the USA would have taken quite such draconian action against Heathrow in 1988, if it had realised in January 1989 (which is when the evidence was available) that the bomb had gone on there. But the consequences would certainly have been extremely unwelcome.

    1. Eek! ITS airside security was atrocious. My fingers are typing extraneous apostrophes!